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Questions by First Timer

texas
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98 posts
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Questions by First Timer

After reading the reviews I am hooked and am planning a trip to SCYC in May 2013. I know others have said that the best part of the experience is exploring the cays in a boat that SCYC provides. One reviewer stated that you should feel "comfortable" operating a boat. I have been a passenger many times on a small boat but never operated it myself. What specific skills do I need to acquire so I will be equipped to operate a small boat such as this ? Can I pick this up with a lesson or two on a local lake here in Texas where I live? Also, how important are skills in reading nautical charts and can an inexperienced person pick up on reading these charts quickly? Finally, will SCYC allow guests to go out on their boats solo or do you have to be accompanied by another person (I travel solo a lot)?

Glastonbury...
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1. Re: Questions by First Timer

I've boated extensively on the SCYC 13' Whalers so i think I can answer most of your questions.

By far the number 1 skill you will need is to be able to "read" the water. By this I mean that you should be aware that different colors indicate different depths as well as obstructions (rocks or reefs).

The saying is "If its blue, cruise right on through and if its white, you'll be stuck all night". Of course this means that blue water is deep (5 to 15 ft usually) and white water is shallow and sandy. Be especially aware if it suddenly changes color, espeically from darker to lighter.

Be aware of brown as this typically is indicative of coral or rocks sticking not too far under. If its black, it usually means seagrass.

If in doubt, SLOW DOWN and if you get stuck, stop the prop immediatly and NEVER try to power through or shove it in reverse to get out!

Which leads me to the next important item.........

Know when the high and low tide will be and if it all possible (the times closely correspond to Nassau--Google it), go exploring when the tide is rising--that way you'll get unstuck more easily if you are unlucky to begin with.

Additionally, take it easy near the "cuts" where the open ocean meets the shallow Exuma bank. This area is especially rough when the tide is going out (between HT and LT) and when the wind is out of the east, it makes it even worse.

There is also a swift current (3 to 4 kts or more) near the cuts when the tide is going out so be mindful of that as well, especially if you are going to swim or while attempting to land on a beach. Away from the cuts, the current is much less noticable.

Lastly, keep an eye on the sky for threatning weather. What you most want to take note of is (especially in the summer) is any building cumulus clouds. This is because all t-storms start this way. If they are fair weather puffy one, its OK, but if they really start towering up and get dark at the bases, monitor them closely and know where clear air is and be ready to retreat there.

I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing a copy of the Exuma Explorer Chart series which is for sale at SCYC. Its a bit pricy at $60, but it was worth every penny!

I would also recommend being proficient in using a GPS and being able to program in waypoints and navigating between them too.

SCYC will provide you with a case that has a few flares and a handheld radio in case you get into trouble. Channel 16 is what you would use for this.

In terms of just operating the boat, this is not difficult and you will get the hang of it in 5 min or less. Just twist the throttle to go faster and let up to slow down. They will show you how to raise the outboard as well as how to operate the lift.

I hope I havent scared you too much, but i just want you to be aware of all the pitfalls tha are potentially hazardous.

That being said, HAVE FUN and enjoy your stay. Let me know if you have more questions,

Buffalo NY
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2. Re: Questions by First Timer

Papafox pretty much covered everything.....he is most wise!!

We were first-timers this past June, and might be able to give you some advice too......

If possible, ask for the larger whaler with the steering wheel; the smaller ones get a bit tiring on the arm if the water is choppy. They also have a bimini cover which we sometimes wish we had.

While we did not splurge on the $60 map, the gift shop has some detailed maps for $6.00. We found that we consulted this map frequently as to water depths, and used the basic map for snorkeling and beach spots.

If you have a small whaler, we would not advise going to the Atlantic side or too close to the cuts to it.......bad. We went all the way to Compass Cay (which I highly recommend doing...don't be afraid!), but we "peeked" around the corner where you would continue to the Land/Sea park and tucked our tails between our legs and went back. It's pretty simple; if you see whitecaps, don't go there.

We recommend going through Pipe Cay and little Pipe Cay (carefully!). Watch your depth; we ended up stopping the boat, putting the prop up, and walking it through; it was awesome!! Shallow flats are great for shells, but not boats. There are some great sandbars there though to "stop and smell the roses".

Most important....relax and have fun! Wish we were back there....

Charles Town, West...
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3. Re: Questions by First Timer

We just got back from staniel cay a week ago were first timers had no problem at all .Make sure you see Wade he will take you up to the labnd and sea park for a awesome experience.

Charles Town, West...
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4. Re: Questions by First Timer

We just got back from staniel cay a week ago were first timers had no problem at all .Make sure you see Wade he will take you up to the labnd and sea park for a awesome experience.

texas
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5. Re: Questions by First Timer

Thanks for your advice. From reading the posts above, it sounds like a novice boater may wish to venture as far north as Compass Cay, would that be advisable? Also, would a novice have any trouble handling the boat by himself?

Charles Town, West...
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6. Re: Questions by First Timer

cavedogg compass cay is doable just make sure you have a full gas tank and after a day or so with your whaler you should be able to handle it yourself with no problem

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7. Re: Questions by First Timer

Also notice the cell tower on Staniel, you can spot it for miles to keep your bearings. Make sure to also go south with table scraps for the lizards, north with scraps for the hogs. One month to go for our return.

Tim

8. Re: Questions by First Timer

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